Bethany and Ryan

Bethany Arnold and Ryan Trostad are getting married tomorrow. Congratulations!

Bethany at one time used to help me with campaigns. Now she practices law.

Nice job Paula and Fred!

The Harris County Tejano Dems endorsed Adrian Garcia last night. Here is this tweet from last night:

Adrian Garcia Retweeted

Matt ‏@mrmperez 10h10 hours ago

.@AdrianGarciaHTX takes the endorsement of the Tejano Democrats after not being initially recommended

Commentary was not surprised.  I am thinking most local Dem activists are for Adrian.

Carlos Correa had 22 dingers and 22 doubles last season. How many triples did he have?

Sec. Hillary Clinton turned in an impressive performance last night. She was on offense for sure. I give her the edge on winning last night’s debate.

Sen. Bernie Sanders scored a few points on Henry Kissinger – for those who remember Kissinger.

Kuffer had this to say about the CD 29 race:

For what it’s worth, I think both candidates have run the kind of race they’ve needed to run (yeah, there’s a third candidate, but he’s not done much of anything). Green has rolled out a bajillion endorsements, and now he’s hitting the airwaves to remind people that he’s good at his job and they’ve never had any complaints about him before now. Garcia has been busy attacking him on issues like marriage equality, gun control, and the environment, where Green’s record is not exactly in line with many primary-voting Democrats. He’s also made the pitch to be the first Latino member of Congress from the Houston area – this Trib story from a few days ago sums up that aspect of the race well – and has thrown in some economic inequality stuff as well. It’s all what I’d have done if he’d have asked for my opinion.

Here is all of Kuffer: http://offthekuff.com/wp/?p=72605.

Carlos Correa had only one triple last season of course.

Hope you enjoy your Valentine’s Day.

I know Bethany and Ryan will!



What Happens!

Speaking of South Carolina, this one is for old timers. This Yankee great is a South Carolina native and holds the record for most RBIs in a World Serious. Who am I talking about?

I went by to visit my parents yesterday and I asked my Mom what she thought of the New Hampshire results. She was not too happy. She says Sen. Bernie Sanders is talking about stuff he will never get implemented.

My Dad and I agreed that it probably would have been better if more Dems had gotten into the race for Prez instead of just a handful.

This is from a column in today’s Chron:

Marcus: Clinton must now fight for the female vote

Ruth Marcus says the candidate needs to figure out how to better speak to young women, who are flocking to rival Sanders.

WASHINGTON – In a devastating outcome for Hillary Clinton in New Hampshire, this was the most unkindest cut of all: Women flocked to Bernie Sanders. Not by single digits, but by a margin of 55 percent to 44 percent.

These numbers matter, and not, as Shakespeare wrote of Brutus stabbing Caesar, because “ingratitude, more strong than traitors’ arms, quite vanquish’d him.” Clinton is not vanquished by what she and her supporters may see as female voters’ ingratitude; she will soldier on.

Here is the entire column: http://www.houstonchronicle.com/opinion/outlook/article/Marcus-Clinton-must-now-fight-for-the-female-vote-6821753.php.

What happens if Secretary Clinton stumbles in Nevada or South Carolina? Is there a Plan B?

From Rebecca Elliott on yesterday’s H-Town City Council meeting:

A request to fund a 60-foot artwork commissioned for the George R. Brown Convention Center sparked an existential debate over Houston’s identity Wednesday, when some City Council members expressed concern that public art depicting migratory birds does not accurately reflect the city’s brand.

The mobile of perforated steel birds and clouds due to be completed by next month already has been the subject of controversy.

The Houston Arts Alliance commissioned the sculpture from Houston artist Ed Wilson in late 2014, before rescinding and re-awarding the artist’s contract amid concerns about the selection process.

Asked to approve the transfer of more than $1 million to pay for the project authorized last year, however, several council members on Wednesday questioned whether the city should be promoting artwork depicting birds.

“Bird migration. Why?” Councilman Robert Gallegos asked during an 18-minute debate alternately tense and jesting. “How are we promoting the city with global trade, space exploration? That’s what Houston is. I don’t have a problem that you want to promote the birds, but promote global trade.”


Jumping to the defense of Wilson’s artwork and its subject were Council members David Robinson and Karla Cisneros, who extolled the role of migratory birds in the Houston region.

“Ornithography, migratory birds, it is part of our regional culture whether we like it or not,” Robinson said. “I think it’s not to be disparaged necessarily, but embraced.”

Cisneros agreed.

“We are not one brand. Houston is a constantly changing, evolving city,” she said. “To throw out the birds, I don’t think that’s really the right thing.”

I am betting that’s the first time “ornithography” has ever been dropped at a council meeting.

I am with the birder folks on this one.

Bobby Richardson of course has the record for 12 RBIs in the 1960 World Serious and I don’t have anything from The Yard today.


Crushed: 22 Points

A noted pollster said the following after last night.

“People want inspiration and they’re not getting that from Hillary Clinton.”

It wasn’t because of home field advantage. Commentary is talking about the 22% crushing victory by Sen. Bernie Sanders last night over Secretary Hillary Clinton.

It is not a demography thing either.

Sanders is running a better campaign. He has got a better message. He appears to be more genuine. His supporters are more enthusiastic.

On to Nevada.

These two Nevada natives won the MLB Rookie of the Year and MVP in the same year. Who am I talking about?

Keep on Trumping. As long as there is a crowded GOP field, the better for Trump.

It is coming to Texas.

The 29th Congressional District ranks dead last amongst the 36 Congressional districts in Texas for voter participation and turnout in general elections and here is this from the Chron:

U.S. Congressman Gene Green has taken Texas’ 29th District Democratic primary to television, leveraging his substantial financial advantage over challenger Adrian Garcia to pour more than $240,000 into network and cable advertising over the next three weeks.

Green’s English- and Spanish-language ads focus on his involvement in the community, providing a contrast to Garcia’s more aggressive negative messaging about the incumbent.

Seeking to fend off his first primary challenge in two decades, Green is relying on his war chest and deep roots in the 77-percent Hispanic district that curls around eastern Houston from the near north side to the Hobby Airport area.

“Welcome to my office. To solve problems, you have to get out in the community,” Green says in an ad that is set to begin airing Wednesday on Comcast. “That’s how we turned a cantina into a thriving clinic expanding access to health care.”

Green has spent $141,000 on cable ads running in the North Houston, Baytown, Pasadena and Pearland areas, and another $100,000 on ads set to begin airing on KHOU-11 next week, records show. The campaign expects to spend a total of $350,000 on television advertising by the end of the week, including on Spanish-language channels.

“Getting people’s attention is going to be hard,” Green consultant Robert Jara said, noting that the presidential race soon will hit Texas in full force. “We wanted to make sure we got things locked in before the presidential candidates started moving into Texas.”

Democratic consultant Ward Curtin characterized Green’s cable advertising as significant but called his broadcast purchase “a squirt gun.”

“That’s not enough gas in the tank to get anywhere,” said Curtin, who is unaffiliated with the campaigns.

Green’s campaign said it plans additional spending on network television and radio as the March 1 primary nears.

A new approach

Comcast and Federal Communications Commission files for major Houston-area channels had no record of advertising purchases by Garcia’s campaign.

Instead, Garcia, who was sitting on just $73,000 in his campaign account at the end of last year, has focused on free media, sending near-daily campaign announcements and news releases, many of which attack Green on issues ranging from gun safety to the environment.

“Benzene Gene is not for District 29,” read a Garcia press release emailed Tuesday afternoon.

Garcia’s antagonistic campaign strategy contrasts with his passive approach to last year’s Houston mayoral race, when he brought in more than $2.5 million as of late October, out-raising his closest competitor by nearly $850,000.

The one-time frontrunner failed to make the runoff, however, as his campaign hesitated to respond to mounting attacks of his record as Harris County sheriff.

Garcia, who announced his congressional bid in mid-December, raised $78,000 in the fourth quarter of last year, mostly from individual Houston-area donors.

Green, on the other hand, took in about $202,000, more than three-quarters of it from political action committees. He raised about $129,000 on or after the day Garcia filed to run. He reported $1.2 million in cash on hand.

Banking on the past

Political newcomer Dominique Garcia, who also is running in the Democratic primary, reported taking in $5,000.

Garcia spokesman Sergio Cantu brushed aside the former Harris County sheriff’s financial disadvantage, pointing to his past victories in Harris County.

“Given the short time frame, we never planned to match up financially, but we do have enough money to run a winning campaign,” Cantu said in an email. “Sheriff Garcia is the largest Democratic vote-getter in the history of Harris County and has won eight contested elections in parts or all of the 29th district.”

Most of the congressional campaign, however, has been conducted in 2016, after the conclusion of the most recent reporting period.

“The question that we don’t know is, ‘Has Garcia raised anything? Is he going to be able to get up on the air at all?'” local Democratic strategist Keir Murray said.

Cantu declined to comment on Garcia’s advertising strategy.

Murray, who is not working on the District 29 race, said even if the former sheriff doesn’t advertise on television, however, voters may still remember his mayoral ads from last year.

“It seems counterintuitive, but even though Green has been the incumbent for more than two decades, I might suggest that he needs more money than Garcia does, only because he hasn’t had a real race in a long time and people have short memories,” Murray said.

Bryce Harper who won last season’s NL MVP Award and Kris Bryant who won last season’s Rookie of the Year Award were both born in Las Vegas Nevada of course.

From Tags:

Astros designated hitter Evan Gattis told MLB.com on Tuesday that he will miss four to six weeks after undergoing surgery to repair a hernia.

Gattis said via text message that he is optimistic he will be ready for the start of the regular season or shortly thereafter, and he hopes to start getting some at-bats in mid- to late March. Astros position players are scheduled to work out for the first time on Feb. 23.



Coming to Texas

It looks like after this evening, we could be seeing some Democratic presidential campaigning here in Texas. It looks like a lot of the local Dem elected officials are for Secretary Hillary Clinton. Here is from the Trib today:

With less than a month until the March 1 primary, (Sen. Bernie) Sanders supporters are sounding optimistic, buoyed by his momentum in the first round of early voting contests as well as an already active organization in Texas. 

“I think he’s going to win Texas,” said former Texas Agriculture Commissioner Jim Hightower, who has been campaigning for Sanders in early voting states. “One, you’ve got to enthuse people, and two, you’ve got to them out on election day. And they’ve got both the organization and the enthusiasm.”

Here is the entire Trib piece: http://www.texastribune.org/2016/02/09/democrats-eye-increasingly-competitive-texas-2016/.

That is a bold prediction from Whole Hog. Who knows? The local elected officials could be on one side and a ton of progressive activists on the other side. From what I can see, the Sanders folks are way better organized than the Hillary folks.

Speaking of number 18 again, who currently wears the number 18 for the ‘Stros?

Adrian Garcia got a couple of key endorsements yesterday. Check this:

Houston, Texas – Two of the most prominent civil rights leaders in Houston endorsed Adrian Garcia for Congress today, calling for a change in TX-29, with the poor conditions in the district constituting a “social justice crisis.” 

“Gun violence is a problem in both the African American Community and the Mexican American Community. Gene Green has not been a supporter of trying to reduce the gun violence that takes place in our community. I’m also here to support Adrian Garcia because this district was created with the expectation that we would have some Mexican American representation in Washington. Adrian Garcia needs to represent this district,” said Dr. James M. Douglas. “[Regarding] Mexican American elected officials who are not supporting Adrian. My mind immediately went to the beginning of the campaign of President Barack Obama. There were a lot of African American Elected Officials who didn’t come forward in the beginning to support President Barack Obama. Just because some people make mistakes doesn’t mean that everyone ought to make a mistake and I think it’s a mistake for anybody not to support Adrian Garcia for the next representative of this congressional district.” 

“I’ve known Adrian Garcia since he was at city council. I’ve seen Adrian Garcia represent this community in so many ways. He has shown that he can give leadership to the people at the bottom.” said Reverend Bill Lawson. “You know I hate to say this but it is a true story. Everyone in America recognizes race. So even though they may have the same last name, believe me, the voters know the difference between Ron Green, Al Green and Gene Green.” 

“This is a district suffering from neglect, and it is a district in crisis.  It is a crisis caused by poor leadership, and it is a crisis it will take new leadership to solve. We are confronted by a social justice crisis on three levels,” said Adrian Garcia. “First, our district has some of the worst educational outcomes in America. Second, the Environmental Protection Agency ranks our district as one of the worst in Texas in terms of cancers caused by airborne pollution. We have cancer clusters, increased incidence of respiratory disease, and areas in our district with “boil water” advisories.  It’s outrageous. As I have said, our community cannot become Flint. Third, we need to do something about gun violence in our community, and in America overall.  We have had more Americans die from gun violence in the past 50 years than the sum of all combat deaths in US military history.”  

“For me, each of these struggles falls into a simple framework.  As your former Sheriff and as a police officer for 23 years, I have always believed no one is above the law. I also believe no one is beneath the law’s protection,” said Garcia. 

“The simple truth is we need change because Gene Green won’t fix any of these problems. When Gene Green was confronted on education, he responded, “Our district is never going to be River Oaks,” said Garcia. “He has taken 1.3 million dollars from oil, gas and chemical companies while voting 133 times against clean air, clean water, and renewable energy.  And lastly, on guns Gene Green has a received an A- grade from the NRA for nine out his ten terms, and has been endorsed by the NRA seven times for Congress.  He’s voted against child safety locks when guns are the second leading cause of accidental death for children in Harris County.  He’s repeatedly voted against background checks when guns are the leading cause of domestic violence deaths in the United States.  He’s even voted for cop-killer bullets.”

Then this tweet:

Greg Groogan ‏@GrooganFox26 21h21 hours ago

Civil Rights leader Bill Lawson backs in 29th Dist. Cong race says Hispanic should have seat

I guess this is kind of why Whole Hog makes his prediction. The following is never a sign that things are going well. Here is from Politico:

Hillary and Bill Clinton are so dissatisfied with their campaign’s messaging and digital operations they are considering staffing and strategy changes after what’s expected to be a loss in Tuesday’s primary in New Hampshire, according to a half-dozen people with direct knowledge of the situation.

Here is the entire Politico piece: http://www.politico.com/story/2016/02/hillary-clinton-staff-shakeup-218955?lo=ap_c1.

A CNN talking head pointed out last night that you could not change the candidate. Clinton could very well be our nominee but her campaign has had a lot of issues.

I still have not seen a Hillary yard sign in my ‘hood.

I’ll be watching New Hampshire tonight.

Luis Valbuena of course wears the number 18.

Again, nothing from The Yard today.




Sen. Bernie Sanders is making an issue of Secretary Hillary Clinton’s speaking fees from Goldman Sachs. That is fair game. She has received hundreds of thousands of dollars in fees from Goldman. Are folks holding Sec. Clinton to a higher or different standard? Commentary has been thinking about this for a few days. I really can’t think of a Dem nominee for president who made a bunch of money on the speaker circuit before they ran for president. Can you? Does it matter?

We all want young folks involved in politics. It is very disappointing to see legends like Secretary Madeline Albright and Gloria Steinem step in it because a bunch of young women are feeling the Bern. I am a fan of Albright and Steinem but they are a bit out of line. They need to be encouraging more young folks to get involved and not ridicule or lecture them.

It is also disappointing to hear Dem congressional leaders worry out loud that a Bernie led ticket will hurt U.S. Senate and House races in November. All I can say is Hillary Clinton has to up her game. Bernie Sanders has a message that is resonating with voters across the country. Here is part of the story on the Albright-Steinem diss on young women:

As Democrats consider Hillary Clinton’s candidacy for the second time, women are wrestling with a difficult question: whether they have an obligation to get behind someone who is closer than anyone has ever been to becoming the first female president.

And with her opponent, Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, outdrawing her in support among young women, Clinton’s candidacy has turned into a generational clash, one that erupted over the weekend when two feminist icons, Madeleine Albright and Gloria Steinem, called on young women who supported Sanders to essentially grow up and get with the program.

While introducing Clinton at a rally in New Hampshire Saturday, Albright, 78, the first female secretary of state, talked about the importance of electing a woman to the country’s highest office. In a dig at the “revolution” that Sanders, 74, often speaks of, she said the first female commander in chief would be a true revolution. And she scolded any woman who felt otherwise.

“We can tell our story of how we climbed the ladder, and a lot of you younger women think it’s done. It’s not done,” Albright said of the broader fight for women’s equality. “There’s a special place in hell for women who don’t help each other!” 

Clinton, 68, laughed, slowly clapped and took a large sip of her beverage.

In an attempt to explain Clinton’s struggles with female voters in New Hampshire, where the nation’s first primary will be held Tuesday, Albright said during an NBC interview Saturday that women could be judgmental toward one another and that they occasionally forgot how hard someone like Clinton had to work to get where she is.

Women were expected to help power Clinton to the Democratic nomination, but as she struggles to overcome a tough challenge from Sanders and trails him in New Hampshire polls, her support among them has been surprisingly shaky. Young women, in particular, have been drawn to the septuagenarian socialist from Vermont, and the dynamic has disappointed feminists who dreamed of Clinton’s election as a capstone to their long struggle for equality.

Steinem, 81, one of the most famous spokeswomen of the feminist movement, took the sentiment a step further Friday in an interview with talk show host Bill Maher. Explaining that women tend to become more active in politics as they become older, she suggested that younger women were backing Sanders just so they could meet young men.

Here is the entire story: http://www.star-telegram.com/news/nation-world/national/article59095428.html.

Speaking of number 18 from last night, who wore the number 18 from the ‘Stros from 1965-1971?

My favorite ads from last night:

Doritos ultrasound and undercover dogs.

Bud Light with Amy and Seth.

Skittles with Steve Tyler.

Prius car chase.

Honda truck and the singing sheep.

75 years of Jeep.

Super Bowl babies with Seal.

Heinz and the weenie dogs.

And Helen Mirren in the 4th quarter on drunk drivers.

I thought Lady Gaga killed it.

The halftime show was great and Beyonce nearly slipped.

I didn’t have a problem with Peyton giving a plug to Budweiser.

I don’t have a problem with Cam walking out of the news conference after being manhandled for sixty minutes. He probably wasn’t himself.

On a sad note, I learned during the game that we are in the final season of “The Good Wife.”

Joe Morgan of course wore the number 18 from 1965-1971.

Spring Training opens next week.


Saturday Morning Special

Commentary usually doesn’t show up on Saturday but two articles caught my attention this morning.   The first one is from the Texas Tribune on the race in Texas’ CD 29. Commentary does not have a problem with a discussion on identity politics, but come one, 1,438 words and not a single mention of the issues. There is a pretty big difference between the Adrian Garcia and Gene Green on guns, the environment, and LGBT issues. And not a single mention on issues facing the district like education opportunities. Well, maybe next time.

The other article is from the Chron. The more discussion about the Latino vote, the better for Latino voter turnout in the Texas Dem Primary.

I have included the headlines for both articles. Enjoy the reads.

Houston House Race a Test Case of Identity Politics

by Alexa Ura, Feb. 6, 2016 

HOUSTON — The bright green “Gene Green U.S. Congress” sign was planted firmly in the lawn of Alice Alexander Gallegos’ home in Houston’s Northside neighborhood. But it was her husband’s doing, she says.

She’s still on the fence between voting for the longtime incumbent congressman or his surprise challenger Adrian Garcia, the former Harris County sheriff she supported in his unsuccessful Houston mayoral bid last year.

Standing outside her home in this Hispanic enclave, Alexander Gallegos begins to explain her indecisiveness, then invokes some family advice. “I do what my mother used to tell me: Always vote for the Hispanics,” she says. “Do for the Mexican.”

Drawn in 1991 to reflect the area’s booming Hispanic population, the Houston-based 29th Congressional District has never been represented by a Hispanic. But the upcoming face-off between Green, who is white, and Garcia — and the fight for voters like Alexander Gallegos — is proving to be a test case on the effectiveness of identity politics in modern Texas Democratic races.

The district, which stretches from north Houston to Pasadena and South Houston, is 76.3 percent Hispanic — up from around 60 percent when it was first created. Whites make up 11.8 percent of the population, and blacks round out the district with 10.7 percent.

Since his surprise last-minute decision to challenge the 24-year incumbent in the March 1 Democratic primary Garcia has insisted his congressional aspirations are rooted in his desire to “be a voice” for the growing Hispanic community.

At times, Garcia has more overtly employed identity politics, telling the Houston Chronicle editorial board that communities can be better served by representatives from “a familiar walk of life.”

But in an interview with The Texas Tribune, Garcia insisted that adequate representation doesn’t depend on electing a Hispanic, but it does require someone who will be outspoken in the face of attacks on the Hispanic community.

“My argument has been that leadership has to emerge when you have individuals like Donald Trump doing vitriol against the Hispanic community, against immigrants,” Garcia said. “And right now the congressional district that happens to represent both of those demographics — immigrants and Hispanics — is virtually silent against that kind of hate and that kind of division, that kind of vitriol.”

But Green, who has represented the district since 1992, says his actions speak louder than words. He points to events he’s organized — immunization clinics, drives to assist legal residents applying for citizenship and college application workshops — as indications of his commitment to the Hispanic community and the issues that matter most to it.

“You draw a district for that particular minority — African American, Asian, Hispanic — so those folks have the right to elect whoever they want,” Green said. “If they don’t decide to elect someone who sounds like them or looks like them, they can pick anyone they want.”

“I think we’ve been the selection just because I think I’ve earned it by doing a lot of things for the district” and its predominantly Hispanic community, he added.

The race sets up a showdown that is expected to come down to voter participation in an area known for voter apathy. Only 6,244 voters cast a ballot for Green in his last uncontested primary in 2014. At least 250,000 district residents were registered to vote that year; half of them had Spanish surnames. Even in the 2008 Democratic primary — which featured a contested presidential primary at the top of the ballot — only 42,222 voters cast a ballot in Green’s race. 

The race will provide a clear glimpse into whether Hispanic voters actively distinguish between “substantive representation — voting for someone based on how well a candidate will represent their needs — and “descriptive representation” — based on “who looks like the majority of the people” in that district, said Jeronima Cortina, an assistant professor of political science at the University of Houston.

“I don’t know if ethnicity is going to trump substantive representation,” Cortina said. “And I’m not very sure or confident that’s going to be the outcome of the election.”

It’s a distinction that has yielded mixed results in other Texas elections where smaller voting groups turn out at higher rates than Hispanics.

In a race between two minorities last year, San Antonio voters chose Ivy Taylor, who is black, over Leticia Van de Putte, who is Hispanic, as mayor even though Hispanics make up 63 percent of the city’s population, while whites comprise almost 27 percent and blacks 6.9 percent.

Meanwhile, U.S. Rep. Lloyd Doggett, D-Austin, has held onto a seat in Congress amid several redistricting fights. Doggett kept his previous seat in the 25th Congressional District even when it shifted from its Travis County-centered configuration to stretch down to predominantly Hispanic Laredo. When that district was redrawn, Doggett took Congressional District 35, which now stretches between Austin and San Antonio. In the 2012 Democratic primary, Doggett, who is white, fended off two Hispanic challengers in a district that’s nearly 63 percent Hispanic.

And Garcia, who aspired to be the first Hispanic Houston mayor, saw his demise in an election where the strength of the Hispanic vote in the state’s most populous city ran into a tide of non-Hispanic, mostly Republican voters who turned out to vote down a nondiscrimination ordinance. Despite increased turnout among Hispanics, Garcia failed to make it into the runoff against Sylvester Turner, who went on to become mayor.

Voters in the district appear divided on the idea that minority voters will only vote for minority candidates. Green has picked up endorsements from the district’s Latino leadership, including state lawmakers whose districts overlap Green’s turf, and labor groups. Meanwhile, Garcia has touted support from the African-American Sheriff’s Deputies League and the leader of the NAACP’s Houston branch.

For Freddy Blanco, chair of Houston’s precinct 72 in the Mason Park area, the hope is that the district’s Hispanic voters will look past race and make a decision on the “benefits” each candidate can provide.

“It’s not good enough just being Latino,” said Blanco, who is supporting Green. “Why does it have to be a race thing? It doesn’t work that way.”

For others, the lack of a Hispanic representative reflects the long-standing patterns of low voter turnout among Hispanics. The hope is that this race will be a “step in the right direction” to remediate that, said James Douglas, president of the NAACP’s Houston branch.

“I think [Garcia] represents the interests of his district very, very well,” Douglas said. “I also think it’s about time we have a Mexican-American from Houston in Congress, but I’m not supporting him just because he’s Mexican-American.”

Whether identity politics will play a role in awakening the “sleeping giant,” a designation placed on Hispanic voters for more than a generation, remains unclear. Green beat a Hispanic challenger in a 1992 runoff election to win the seat and last faced a primary opponent in 1996, so it’s difficult to predict March turnout, particularly in a presidential year. 

Garcia could see a slight boost from his Hispanic surname among low-information Hispanic voters that may be drawn to the voting booth by the presidential race at the top of the ticket. Research shows those voters are likely to cast ballots based on Hispanic surname if they know little about candidates — but it’s unclear whether that will get Garcia very far. He could end up splitting those votes with the third challenger in the race, realtor Dominique Garcia (no relation).

The Hispanic surname phenomenon confronted former state Sen. Wendy Davis in her 2014 gubernatorial bid. Davis won the statewide Democratic nomination handily, but she lost several border counties with large Hispanic populations to Corpus Christi Municipal Court Judge Ray Madrigal, a virtually unknown candidate.

Madrigal had no statewide name ID and did not raise or spend any money on his campaign. But Davis trailed Madrigal in several counties, losing by almost 30 percentage points in Starr County.

But the Hispanic surname boost is more likely a deciding factor in low-information elections where candidates are largely unknown, said Sylvia Manzano, principal strategist at the political polling organization Latino Decisions.

Green is a longtime incumbent well known in the district, while Garcia is riding high name identification from his time as sheriff and the high profile mayoral race at the end of last year.

“Identity politics by itself isn’t enough,” Manzano said, but it plays a bigger role in a race where “all other things being equal” you have two candidates voters share a “personal affinity” with and believe to be well qualified.

“The whole notion that [identity politics] could be a deciding factor, that’s when it’s much more in play,” Manzano added. “And that’s what this contest is.”

Abby Livingston contributed to this report.

And from the Chron:

Cruz, Rubio spark hopes of increased Latino voting – but might not win the demographic

Hispanic candidates are on the ballot but might not win the demographic

By Lomi Kriel

February 5, 2016 Updated: February 5, 2016 11:23pm 

For the first time ever, Hispanics this year will have the chance to vote for not one but two Latino candidates with a real shot at the Republican presidential nomination.

Just one month before Texas’ Super Tuesday primary on Mar. 1, how significantly that could boost the state’s historically low Latino voter turnout remains up in the air, however.

And the two candidates, Cuban-Americans speaking harshly about immigration and favoring increased border enforcement, have not exactly elicited roars of excitement from the mainstream Latino voting bloc that Republicans would like to attract.

Bemoaning the lack of attention on Fox News this week, Reince Priebus, chairma n of the Republican National Committee, said, “Ted Cruz, first Hispanic out of Iowa from a major political party; Marco Rubio – two out of our top three, Hispanic. You know, where is the media on this, right? This is a big deal.”

Matt Mackowiak, a Republican consultant in Austin, agreed.

“I wish it were more of an issue than it is. … There’s very little attention paid to the fact that two of the top Republican candidates are Latino,” Mackowiak said. “There’s ideological racism because they don’t fit the East Coast establishment idea of what a Latino should be.”

Others, however, say the cold shoulder from some Latino groups is because Cruz and Rubio actively play down their ethnicity to appeal to their more conservative bases.

Neither derives much of his support from Hispanics or claims to speak for them. And both, to varying degrees, have opposed a path to legalization for immigrants, which most Hispanic politicians support.

“There’s no big bounce out there, like, ‘Yeah, we got Rubio or Cruz,'” said Antonio Gonzalez, president of the William C. Velásquez Institute, a national Latino public policy research group in San Antonio. “Neither of them have campaigned with any ethnic symbolism, so it diminishes the response they get from the Latino community.”

It all raises the complicated issues of who and what constitutes being Latino and having ethnic authenticity, as well as how ethnic groups vote, questions that on a smaller scale are playing out in former Harris County Sheriff Adrian Garcia’s congressional bid against veteran Democratic Congressman Gene Green.

Garcia, who is Mexican-American, is trying to unseat Green, who supporters say has years of experience fighting successfully for Hispanic issues.

“Just because someone is a Latino doesn’t guarantee Latinos will vote for him,” said Roberto Suro, professor of public policy and journalism at the University of Southern California. “And just because Latinos don’t vote for a politician doesn’t mean that politician is not Latino.”

Latinos, of course, are not monolithic, and the cultural experiences of Cubans arguably are vastly different from the nation’s 34.6 million residents of Mexican descent, who make up nearly two-thirds of the Latino community.

By law, Cubans who reach American shores are treated as refugees and given an expedited path to citizenship. For Mexicans, it is much harder to immigrate legally, and tens of thousands more are deported each year than any other nationality.

Threaded into the complicated issue of identity, therefore, is that of immigration, which in the Republican primaries has emerged as the be-all and end-all.

Cruz is using strong anti-immigrant language, evoking former California Gov. Pete Wilson, a Republican who famously warned, “They keep coming.”

Rubio is walking a finer line, trying to emphasize the need for border security while leaving open an option for some sort of legal pathway to eventual citizenship.

“It’s clear Rubio is looking at the central moderate part of the Republican electorate, and Cruz is very anxious to get the angry tea party vote and evangelicals,” Suro said. “That’s more important than what their ethnic identity is right now.”

Add in a third factor: Donald Trump. More Latinos voted than ever before in Iowa’s presidential caucuses this week – as many as 13,000, according to an analysis of exit polls by the League of United Latin American Citizens.

By comparison, only 2,500 voted in the 2008 caucuses. LULAC launched a voter registration drive there last summer in response to the billionaire businessman’s controversial remarks about Mexicans.

How that will all play out in Texas, where Latinos lag behind in voter turnout, below even the dismal national level, remains to be seen.

In 2012, Mitt Romney captured only 27 percent of the Hispanic vote. And though no exit polls were conducted that year in Texas, it is estimated only about 20 percent of voters who turned out were Latino.

Still, groups like the Velásquez Institute predict Latinos in Texas will register more than 3 million voters and cast more than 2 million votes, both of which would be records.

Part of it is simply a matter of population growth. The state has gained 600,000 eligible Hispanic voters since the 2012 presidential elections, growing to 4.8 million – second only to California, according to the Pew Research Center, a think tank in Washington, D.C. The Latino share of eligible Texas voters increased 2 percent in that period, to 28 percent.

At the same time, Hispanic voter turnout increases each year there is an open presidential election, especially when there is a “perceived villain,” such as Trump, said Gonzalez. He pointed to Arizona, which boasts the fastest-growing Latino voter base after its state leaders passed strict anti-immigrant laws several years ago.

Republicans also see hope, saying they can attract the majority of Hispanics who are eligible to vote but have not. They note that Cruz won 40 percent of the Hispanic vote in his 2012 race for the U.S. Senate, and that Gov. Greg Abbott received 44 percent in 2014. They say they have invested heavily in Latino outreach since Romney’s dismal showing in 2012.

“The Hispanic demographic votes under-average, so even if they just vote average that’s very significant,” said Steve Munisteri, a former chairman of the Texas Republican Party who advised Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul until he dropped out of the GOP race this week.

Munisteri said his party polled Texas Hispanics during the last election and found they were more conservative than elsewhere, tending to oppose abortion and a guaranteed path to citizenship but favoring a guest-worker program. A call to deport all 11 million immigrants here illegally, as Trump has proposed, however, “without exception was off-the-charts unfavorable,” he said.

Jim Henson, who directs the Texas Politics Project at the University of Texas at Austin, sees no reason for the primary or general election to be much different from any in the past, whether a Latino is on the Republican ballot or not.

In polling the group did last November, one-third of registered Latino voters had a “very unfavorable” attitude toward Cruz, he said. On the whole, 50 percent view the GOP unfavorably compared to 31 percent for Democrats.

“There’s not a lot of reason to expect that Ted Cruz, or by extension, Marco Rubio, is going to inspire a significant amount of interest among Texas Latinos,” he said.

The timing of Texas’ primaries, however, keeps it in play, said Mark Hugo Lopez, director of Hispanic Research at the Pew Research Center.

“It’s very possible the Democratic nomination is not decided by then and the Republican side still has more than two candidates,” he said. “If this is still a competitive race, we might see outreach to the Latino community in a way we haven’t seen in some time in Texas.”

Texas is not a battleground state. So not a whole lot of money will not be spent here in November.  So until both presidential candidates make a play for Latino voters here, it is kind of hard to fully discuss this without hard data.

Enjoy the game!


Super Bowl 50

There is a front page story in the Chron today that says Texas will be in play during the primaries. That is good thing and good for turnout. Go pick up your Chron and check it out.

Commentary has watched all of the previous 49 Super Bowls.

The first one played was on both NBC and CBS but don’t ask me which network I watched.

The most memorable and best one was Super Bowl III when Joe Namath of the Jets guaranteed a victory over the Colts and won. It was a statement that the AFC/AFL would not take a back seat to the NFC/NFL.

The most bittersweet was watching the Titans play.

I root for the AFC teams. It is an Oilers and Texans thing. I think though I did root for the Saints a few years ago – a Katrina thing.

I have never been to a Super Bowl. It is really not a priority with me.

I would like to see the Texans play in and win a Super Bowl someday.

I will root a little extra for the Broncos on Sunday because of Coach Kubiak and Wade Phillips.

Among MLB pitchers, who hit the most dingers and RBIs last season?

Here is part of what the Mayor put out the other day:

Mayor Sylvester Turner has selected former Houston Independent School District Trustee Juliet Stipeche to serve as Director of Education, a new position within the mayor’s administration.

“Juliet is very passionate about education and children and I share that passion,” said Mayor Turner.  “She is a visionary with transformative ideas.  Her collaborative approach of working with parents, administrators, business, law enforcement and neighborhoods will help achieve my goal of moving this city forward and reducing the income inequality that is so often the result of deficiencies in the education system.”


“The creation of this new position is meant to compliment, not compete, with the hard work of our area school districts,” said Turner.  “Creating the strong, well-educated Houston of tomorrow will require everyone working together.  Juliet is the perfect choice for ensuring my vision gets implemented.”

“I am excited and deeply honored to work with Mayor Sylvester Turner, who is committed to building a City where educational equity and opportunity exist for every child regardless of zip code,” said Stipeche.  “I look forward to collaborating with fantastic community partners to build lasting relationships to promote educational excellence in the City of Houston.”

Go for it. Mike Morris of the Chron has a piece on Stipeche today and in the article Council Member Jerry Davis refers to Stipeche as an “education czar.” That is jumping the gun a bit. Let’s wait a while until we can see results before we start assigning czar titles.   Here is all of the Morris article:

Mayor Sylvester Turner has named former Houston ISD board president Juliet Stipeche to a newly created Director of Education role in his administration, seeking greater collaboration between the city and area schools, community colleges and universities.

Many council members and education advocates praised the move, even as some acknowledged Stipeche’s effectiveness could be limited by the inherent gap between the city and local schools districts, which are legally distinct and governed by separately elected boards.

Turner said Stipeche, who will report directly to him, will work with parents, administrators, law enforcement agencies and neighborhoods, seeking grants and better coordinating what dollars Houston already directs to youth and educational programs. He tied the appointment to his oft-repeated goal of reducing income inequality, saying that social divide often is driven by an inadequate education system.

“This is a golden opportunity to really recognize that we can’t continue to be a growing, dynamic city if our school systems are operating separate and apart,” Turner said. “Not all of it has to do with dollars and cents. Some of it is just making sure that one entity is not doing something that works adversely against the other. It doesn’t make any sense to be closing community neighborhood schools if the city is looking at revitalizing those communities.”

Such a disconnect cropped up in 2014, when the city sought a federal grant to help fund a multimillion-dollar makeover of Cleme Manor Apartments in the Fifth Ward, even as school district officials were weighing whether to close adjacent the N.Q. Henderson Elementary, which drew half of its student body from the low-income apartment complex. The school remains open.

“We’ve got to work together. The hot spots for illegal dumping, high crime, it’s no fluke they’re in poor neighborhoods,” said District B Councilman Jerry Davis, who was involved in the discussions over Henderson Elementary. “Some people are saying, ‘We don’t have a role in education.’ You’re wrong. We pay a little on the front end or we pay a lot on the back end, and that’s through incarceration, through subsidized programs and things like that. This education czar can help connect the dots.”

For example, Davis said, if the city lacks a library in an area where HISD is rebuilding, why should the school not be built larger so the city could rent library space there, or provide the librarians? Better coordination, he said, also could have prevented what happened at Bruce Elementary, where HISD rebuilt the school and added a covered outdoor basketball court across the fence from a covered basketball court at city-owned Swiney Park.

“What I’ve noticed serving on the school board for a number of years is there are many good-intentioned programs that exist, but they exist in silos. We need to build bridges so we don’t replicate programs,” Stipeche said. “There is no more important means of testing the indication of the future fiscal and social well-being of a community than evaluating the education level of the community.”

Ceiling on effectiveness

One particular area of coordination will be President Barack Obama’s “My Brother’s Keeper” program, aimed at turning around the lives of millions of disadvantaged boys and young men, particularly those of color.

At least 35 community partners have engaged with the program since its local launch last year, Stipeche said, examining efforts ranging from preschool initiatives to workforce programs.

Bob Sanborn, CEO of the nonprofit Children At Risk, praised Turner’s decision and the choice of Stipeche, who he said is smart, understands public education and, as a Latina, represents the largest segment of Houston youths.

“When parents think about our city, they often mistakenly think the schools are part of the city. But the fact of the matter is that schools make up an important part of the life of families, and for the mayor to at least look to collaborate with the school district is a step in the right direction,” Sanborn said.

Still, he said, there will be a ceiling on Stipeche’s effectiveness.

“You’re going to have a school board and you’re likely to have a superintendent who are going to listen to each other rather than a mayor and an advisor to the mayor,” he said. “You hear this many times from school officials: ‘We don’t report to the mayor.’ That’s not the system we have in Texas. Maybe we should have that system, but that’s not what we have.”

Councilman Mike Knox said he was not questioning Stipeche’s qualifications, but worried about the cost she and any subordinates will have on the tight city budget.

“I appreciate the mayor having the ability to decide what he does with his own budget, but in these economic times, I’d have liked to have seen him advise the city council that he was thinking about doing this or spending this kind of money before it was a done deal and before it was a public announcement,” he said.

Zeph Capo, president of the Houston Federation of Teachers union, said he was hopeful the appointment would result in greater cooperation between the city and the school district. The union strongly backed Stipeche in her unsuccessful re-election campaign to the school board last fall.

“We’re kind of sick and tired of the silos and the fiefdoms,” said Capo, who also serves on the board of Houston Community College. “We’ve got to find a way to work together.”

Critic of Grier

Stipeche, a lawyer who grew up in the East End and was valedictorian of HISD’s High School for Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice, had transitioned from her law firm in recent years to take a job at her alma mater, Rice University, at the school’s Richard Tapia Center for Excellence and Equity. The center focuses on increasing minority participation in math and science fields.

On the school board, she was a strong critic of outgoing Superintendent Terry Grier, led the school board’s audit committee and backed a nondiscrimination policy for the district.

She will earn $89,000 in the new role, which she began formally on Feb. 1.

Staff writer Ericka Mellon contributed to this story.

I wonder if Morris or Mellon reached out to HISD Trustee Diana Davila to comment for this story. Davila defeated Stipeche pretty handily last November.

I certainly don’t want to tell Stipeche how to do her job but she should first check why is there inequality of city services around neighborhoods surrounding schools. Seems like the neighborhoods surrounding the good schools are getting better love from the city than the neighborhoods surrounding the struggling schools.

I watched the debate last night and both candidates did what they had to do and I don’t have a problem with that.

Madison Bumgarner of the Giants of course had five dingers and nine RBIs last season

There are six weekday non-holiday day games at The Yard this season.



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